Last updateTue, 17 Mar 2015 2pm

Charity calls for UK retailers to be "more accountable" in Bangladesh

A campaign group has called on British High Street retailers to do more to improve the conditions of workers in Bangladesh, following the collapse of a garment factory in the country's capital Dhaka which has claimed the lives of hundreds.

More than 375 people, mainly female workers, were killed after the building, housing factories supplying retailers such as Primark and Bonmarche, came crashing down on Tuesday.

Graciela Romero, of War On Want, told the BBC that firms who use Bangladeshi products must "safeguard the life of these workers".

Primark has said it "accepts all its responsibilities in this disaster" and has already sent a team of experts to provide assistance to families affected by the tragedy.

A protest was held outside Primark's flagship store in London on Saturday following the disaster.

Ms Romero, War On Want's Director of International Programmes, said businesses that employ people in Bangladesh "have the power to change the situation there and to basically safeguard the life of these workers and it's not happening".

"They need to act now, and the UK government needs to basically establish regulation to control these brands and then to protect the lives of workers in Bangladesh."

A petition has now been launched by War On Want, calling for Primark and other retail brands which used the building's products to compensate the families of workers killed or injured.

Campaigners also want Primark, with Matalan and Mango, which have also used the building's products, to sign the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement of firms, unions and non-governmental organisations aimed at ending the "appallingly unsafe factory conditions" in that country.

Meanwhile the owner of the 'Rana Plaza' building has been arrested near the country's border with India.

Mohammed Sohel Rana was brought back to the capital Dhaka by helicopter and now faces charges over the disaster.

Mr Rana's wife had already been detained - but he had not been seen since the building toppled to the ground on Wednesday.

He had reportedly received permission to build a five-story building initially but had added three further floors illegally.  

Building inspectors had allegedly warned Mr Rana of cracks in the buildings' foundations just a day before its collapse but the owner had ignored the warnings and threatened workers who refused to report to work with dismissal.

Hopes of finding more people trapped under the concrete are fading fast as a fire broke out Sunday at the site, sparked by rescuers trying to cut through the rubble.

It is the deadliest tragedy to hit the Bangladeshi garment manufacturing industry which is second only to China's, generating more than $20 billion in revenue every year.



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